Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bay and ocean exploding with activity

 Angler Brian Dick caught this 16 pound striped bass at Brenton Reef Tuesday while fishing On the Rock’s Charters.
 Michael Strashnick of Warwick with two nice fluke he caught off Warwick Light last weekend.
 Anthony Marfeo Jr. and his dad have been catching big largemouth bass.  This fish was caught on medium heavy minnows early this week.
 Peter Vican of East Greenwich with the 52.45 pound striped bass caught Saturday off Block Island.  This is his 33rd fish over 50 pounds; he holds the RI State record with a 77.4 pound fish caught in 2011.
 Sean Stanford of Jamestown with the 9.25 pound fluke he caught this week on the Seven B’s party boat using a fluke belly and a sand eel as bait.
 Lary Norin (back row, far right) was part of the team that boated this 290 pound thresher shark last week aboard Hot Reels Charters with Captains Louis DeFusco and Jack Sprengel. 
Mike Swain with a 40” and a 43” striped bass caught in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay Tuesday.

Bay and ocean exploding with activity

A month ago fishing news was dribbling in but this week the faucet was wide open as fishing (catching) reports accelerated with anglers offshore, in the upper and lower bay, along the coastal shore, at Block Island and in freshwater with a strong largemouth bass bite.

Here is a thumbnail of what’s going on:

Tuesday Mike Swain of Coventry and his fishing partner boated a 40” and a 43” striped bass early morning using pogies in the east passage.

Capt. Louis DeFusco of Hot Reels and Capt. Jack Sprengel of East Coast charters landed a 290 pound thresher shark with Larry Norin, Rick Sustello and four other anglers on board.

RI state striped bass record holder (77.4 pounds) Peter Vican of East Greenwich landed is 33rd striped bass over 50 pounds… a  52.45 pound fish he caught off the south side of Block Island at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday using a live eel.

Tuesday, Brian Dick from Connecticut was fishing with Capt. Rene LeTourneau of On the Rock’s Charters and boated a 16 pound striped bass off Brenton Reef, Newport using a needlefish lure.

Michael Strashnick of Warwick boated several keeper fluke right off Warwick Light this weekend.

Fluke fishing out in front of southern coastal beaches has improved daily with 3 to 4 pound fish being caught and 7 and 8 pound fish being weighed in too said Phil Matteson of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown. 

Fishing regulations receiving pressure

During the past several months there have been a number of key proposed policy changes that if approved could greatly impact our fisheries. Some say the proposed changes will weaken regulations having a long term negative impact on fisheries, while others say the policy changes will have a positive impact on fishing immediately providing much needed relief for commercial fishermen and fishing communities in New England.  Here are some highlights.

Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization bill

Last month, in a highly partisan vote, the U.S. House passed a bill that would weaken the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.  Matt Mullin, from the Environmental Defense Fund said, “The bill, as passed by the House would undercut proven environmental law including the Endangered Species Act and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act; weaken rebuilding and quota provisions; restrict data from the public; and limit options for fishermen.”

It is important for recreational and commercial fishermen to weigh in on the Reauthorization bill; particularly if/when a Senate version of the bill starts to go thought the legislative process in the U.S. Senate.

NOAA National Standard 1 changes would weaken Magnuson-Stevens

On June 30 the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) closed its comment period on policies that would weaken key parts of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and provide regional managers with more flexibility. 

NOAA’s proposal would revise the act’s National Standard 1 guidelines making them more flexible in response to fishermen who have claimed fishing laws are too rigid. 
A statement from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Conservation Law Authority and three other conservation groups said, “The proposed new rules promote strategies that would increase the risk of overfishing and would allow managers to leave populations at low levels rather than rebuild them quickly and to forgo management of fish stocks in need of conservation.”   

The statement related the proposal would allow managers to delay lowering catch limits in response to scientific information, increasing the risk of overfishing; obscure information about overfishing (by averaging several years of data); raise quotas by carrying over uncaught fish from the previous year without determining whether the population is healthy; and continue using deficient plans for rebuilding overfished stocks to healthy levels, instead of revising the plans to restore populations more quickly. The statement said, “The proposal would allow managers to keep using rebuilding plans that did not meet their goals and to extend timelines for rebuilding overfished stocks for years or even decades beyond what would be allowed currently.

At press time, the public comment period closed on these policy changes and the fishing community is waiting to see if NOAA will enact all or some to these proposed National Standard 1 guideline changes.

ASMFC summer meeting

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) 2015 Summer Meeting is scheduled for August 4-6, 2015 in Alexandria, Virginia.  The ASMFC makes coastal fishing regulations for many of the species we fish in Rhode Island including striped bass, summer flounder, black sea bass, tautog and a host of others.

The preliminary agenda includes important Management Board meetings for tautog, striped bass and Atlantic menhaden that will impact the 2016 Fishing Management Plans for these species.
The tautog board will review and discuss a Draft Public Information Document for Amendment 1 to the tautog Interstate Fishery Management Plan.  The most recent tautog assessment will likely bring more conservation tautog relations for recreational and commercial fishermen in RI. 

Key issues on striped bass include a review of the Technical Committee’s Report on the likelihood of achieving fishing mortality targets with the regulations that were finally implemented (one fish at 28” minimum size for recreational fishermen and a 25% commercial quota reduction), and progress on management level projections using the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Fleet reference points. The Board will also review and possibly approve the 2015 FMP State Compliance Reports. 

Important Atlantic menhaden discussions will focus on an update from the Atlantic menhaden working group on the progress of ecosystem-based management goals and objectives.  This was a key component/concession with the vote taken by the Commission at their last meeting when they increased quota by 10%.

Rhode Island ASMFC representatives usually hold an input meeting for fishermen on agenda items prior to the ASMFC meeting.  Watch for this meeting notice. An updated agenda and materials will be available on July 23, 2015 at http://www.asmfc.org/home/2015-summer-meeting.


Where’s the bite
“Freshwater trout fishing has slowed down substantially.” said John Wunner of John’s Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown.  However largemouth bass fishing is hot.  Dave Henault of Ocean Sate Tackle, Providence said, “Customers Anthony Marfeo (junior and senior) have been catching good sized largemouth bass every day, four times a week, using medium heavy shiners. They are fishing multiple lakes and ponds north and west of Providence.”

Striped bass. Angler John Rivera of Portsmouth (when visiting Fin & Feather Outfitters, North Kingstown) said, “I fished all night Saturday starting at the Narrows, then Black Point, Narragansett, followed by the Cliff Walk in Newport.  The fish were not interested in the flies I had.  Looked like they might have been eating shrimp.  Switched to spinning gear and ended up at the Cape Cod Canal landing four fish in the ten to fifteen pound range.  In general fishing in the lower Bay from Portsmouth to Newport Harbor has been good at night.  I often fish on my kayak and heard that last week kayakers landed a 40 and a 50 pound fish at the Newport Bridge, one on a live pogie and a second on a squid.” Phil Matteson of Breachway Bait & Tackle said, “Fish in the 15 to 34 inch are being caught in the salt ponds with anglers catching them with plugs and small Slug Gos.”  The bass bite on Block Island is improving.  Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “It is a messed spring with the bass bite on and then off on any given day.  Some schools of menhaden have bass feeding on them and others don’t.  Some guys are fishing at night on Block Island for one bite and that’s it.  From shore anglers are doing OK. We have a couple of customers that landed 32” fish at Beavertail this week.  The old timers say when we have a cold winter the fishing season will last longer, but what they forgot to tell us is that it will start slower too.”

Fluke/black sea bass fishing had been good at Warwick Light and south of Patience Island.  Some guys are landing them in 10’ of water and others in 70’ of water.” said Ken Landry.  I fished the Warwick Light area Sunday with angler Steve Brustein and we caught short flounder, we moved to north of the Jamestown Bridge and landed multiple sea bass to 21”.  Anglers are happy about the sea bass opening July 2 as they have been catching them while fluking.  As of July 2, anglers are allowed to take one sea bass/person/day. The limit increases in September to seven fish/person/day. Frank Mello of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Customers are landing summer flounder in the Rocky Point and Conimicut areas.” Both the Seven B’s and the Frances Fleet party boats had a good fluke fishing week. Capt. Russ Benn of the Seven B’s said “Several fish in the eight to ten pound range were caught this week including a 9.25 pound fish caught by Sean Stanford.”

The scup bite continues to get stronger with anglers landing them just about anywhere in the Bay.  “Customers are catching big scup at Colt State Park and at the bridges (in Barrington and Warren)." said Frank Mello of Lucky Bait.

Atlantic bonito.  Yes bonito!  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Bob Turcotte landed a small bonito Saturday about ¼ mile off the beach at Little Compton.  It was the only bonito caught on a crippled herring.  The bass, blues and the bonito were feeding on sand eels." 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fluke experts to share tactics

 RJ and Quincy with giant bluefish to 11 pounds they caught in Greenwich Bay when fishing in Take-a-Kid Fishing sponsored by the RI Saltwater Anglers.
 Capt. Dave Monti and Jim Stevens of Warwick with a plump 31 inch bass Jim caught while fishing off Popasquash Point, Bristol after Take-a-Kid fishing.
 
 Carole Prisco of Warwick with the fluke she landed at Warwick Light last week.
The Bonito has been chosen as the featured fish in this year’s “art Drive” in the Westport and Dartmouth area August 8 and 9.


Fluke experts to share tactics

Here’s your chance to learn how to fish for summer flounder from a panel of fluke experts Monday, June 29, 7:00 p.m. at the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Associations’ (RISAA) meeting at the West Valley Inn, West Warwick, RI.

Gisele Golembeski, Susan Lema and Diane Valerien, some of the best fluke fishers in the northeast, will share basic fluke fishing techniques, advanced tips on tackle, bait, and tactics for finding and catching fluke.

Dinner served by the West Valley Inn starting at 5:30 p.m. (not included in admission).  Non-members welcome but are requested to make a $10 donation to the RISAA Scholarship Fund, RISAA members attend free.  Visit www.risaa.org for details.


Take a Kid Fishing big success

“This is the first fish I ever caught.”, “I’ve never been on a boat before.”, “I caught four fish so far.”, “Thanks for taking us fishing.” These were some to the comments that 150 children between the ages of seven and thirteen had to say about the annual Take-a-Kid (TAK) fishing day Saturday sponsored by the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA).

The aim of the program is to give children a chance to learn about Narragansett Bay and the environment, experience the thrill of catching a fish and ride on a boat in saltwater.  And, they did.  Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and four staff members volunteered their time to serve as mates aboard vessels or cook and serve hotdogs and hamburgers along with the 200 other volunteers that donated their time to make the day a success.

Steve Medeiros, RISAA president said, “The day was a big success, the weather cooperated and the bluefish did too as the bite was good will all catching fish.   We teach the children about the value of catch and release but many of them want to take the fish home and that’s OK.  So we accommodate them and offer to clean and fillet the fish and make sure we have plenty of ice and bags available so kids can take the fish home.” 

Brewer Greenwich Bay Marina in Warwick once again donated their facilities to host the event.  This was the 18th annual TAK fishing day.

Atlantic Bonito featured in art show

The Atlantic bonito will be featured in “the Art Drive” August 8 and 9 in the towns of Dartmouth and Westport, MA.   Each year participating artists apply their creativity and style to create large, colorful depictions of popular species of fish. This year, the artists have chosen the bonito. Their four-foot long “Bodacious Bonitos” will be previewed in public spaces and in front of local shops, businesses and other sites in Dartmouth and Westport prior to the ART Drive weekend. The general public will be able to view and bid on the fish on eBay by going to www.the-artdrive.com.

The ART Drive artists will individually donate a percentage of their sales to the Lloyd Center for the Environment, a non-profit organization that provides educational programs on aquatic environments and supports scenic, public walking trails through 82 acres of estuaries and salt marshes in South Dartmouth, Mass.

For more information on the ART Drive artists, sponsors, demonstration times and a map of the “the Art Drive” route, visit: www.the-art-drive.com.
                                  
Where’s the Bite

The bluefish bite is very strong with anglers landing fish in bays and covers and along the coastal shore. Greenwich Bay was teaming with bluefish Saturday as 150 children and 65 volunteer boats successfully fished the area during the annual Take-a-Kid Fishing event.  A young man named Quincy from the Davey Lopes Recreation Center, Providence fishing on my boat during TAK landed an eleven pound bluefish.  John Migliori of Aquidneck Island said he has been landing large bluefish (8 plus pounds) from shore in the Aquidneck Island area.

Striped bass are in the Bay, but you have to work for them.” said Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick.  This week Jim Stevens of Warwick landed his first large bass on No Fluke Charters… a plump 31 inch fish off Popasquash Point, Bristol, while trolling bubble gum colored tubes and worms.  Jim was using lead line and a T-Man keel weighed with one once of lead to get down to the strike zone. Kayak anglers are doing well with bass too.  Angler Bob Oberg said “So far I’ve landed about 44 fish, some have been nice keepers. This is good for this time of year.” Bob likes to use tube and worm fishing from his kayak.  John Wunner of John’s Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said, “We weighed in a thirty-four pound striper this week.  The fish was taken mid Bay using eels. The word is that there are still plenty of school bass in the Bay with larger fish being taken as anglers work to hook up with them using menhaden, eels, tube & worm and other methods.”  Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marian, South Kingstown said, “The bass bite on Block Island improved this week on the Southwest side.  There are big fish there, likely up to 50 plus pounds but they are not plentiful at this time.”

Sumer flounder (fluke) fishing continues to pick up with nice fish being caught in the Bay and along the coastal shore.  Capt. Rich Hittinger said, “We were catching fish fishing the west side of Block Island about a month ago but things slowed down with the last trip there yielding very few keepers, however, last week we fished off the center wall of the Harbor of Refuge and did very good with fluke.” Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet, said, “Some really big fluke continue to be found.  Top honors this went to Irene Brown of Sutton, MA who decked a fine 12.7 pound doormat on Saturday's run. The next biggest fish taken went around 11 pounds. Close to a dozen fish so far this season have been ten pounds or better.”  Anglers Carole and Charlie Prisco of Warwick and brother-in –law Joe landed a number of short fluke with keepers mixed at Warwick Light last week.  John Wunner of John’s Bait, North Kingstown said, “Fluke fishing under the bridges (Newport and Jamestown) improved greatly this week with anglers their ratio to about 50/50… 50% keepers and 50% shorts.  Keeper fish have not been huge but they have averaged about 22”.  I had a number of anglers in fishing the Fluke Til Ya Puke Tournament Saturday.  Most went to the mouth of the Sakonnet River and did very well there where the fluke fishing has been consistently good for the past three weeks.”

Offshore.  The school bluefin tuna bite has been very good.  Matt Conti of Sung Harbor Marina said, “Bluefin tuna fishing has been very good all over… fish being caught this week at the East Fishing Grounds, South of Block Island, at Cox’s Ledge and the northwest corner of the Dump.  What is surprising is that the fish were in close with a 44” fish being caught off Pt. Judith.  Most are trolling, however, the in close fish are being fished with spinning reels and lures.”


Learn how to quahog this summer

Dan Thivierge of Warren, RI weighs in a 43.6 pound, 50” striped bass at Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren.  Dan caught the fish Friday night off Colt State Park, Bristol using live Atlantic menhaden as bait.
Pete Jones of Wellesley, MA with the 23” fluke he caught Friday, south of the Jamestown Bridge in 40 feet of water with a yellow buck tail tipped with squid.
Capt. Matt Cox of the Frances Fleet with the 32 inch, 13.8 pound summer flounder (fluke) that fell victim to a customer’s small whole squid on a Pro series mylar green bait rig last week.
Learn how to catch quahogs this summer.

Learn how to calm it up

Here is your chance to learn how to dig for clams and what type of equipment is needed. The program is sponsored by the University of Rhode Island's Sea Grant and features commercial shell fisherman Jody King, who will introduce participants to recreational clamming. Space is limited and registration is required. 

Participants learned about the type of equipment used, the size limits and restrictions of quahogs, the difference between the different types of shellfish, and the importance of managing the resource for future generations

The remaining dates and locations for the "Come Clam with Me" classes are:

Thursday, July 30, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Spink's Neck Beach in North Kingstown
Thursday, August 20, from 4 .pm. to 7 .pm. at North Kingstown Town Beach
Wednesday, September 16, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Spink's Neck Beach in North Kingstown

There is no fee for the class and registration is required.  To register or for more information contact Kimberly Sullivan at kimberly.sullivan@dem.ri.gov or 401-539-0019.

Fin & Feather Outfitters fly-fishing seminar

Alex Petti of fin & Feather Outfitters said, “We are holding a fly casting demonstration with instructions for both beginners and advance fly fishers on Saturday, June 20 at 10:00 a.m.” Learn about the Hexigina Hatch from fly expert Bob Greco and then take a casting lesson from local fly experts Ed Lombardo and Max Petti.  Lessons are free.  Both fresh and saltwater anglers welcome… learn about fly lines, leaders, knots and much more.  Visit Fin & Feather Outfitters at 3520 Quaker Lane, North Kingstown, RI.   Call 401.316.6924 or visit www.finandfeather@outlook.com for information.

Trout Unlimited meeting on fishing the Hex

The Narragansett Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU225) will host its regular monthly membership meeting on Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 6:30 PM.  This meeting will be held at the RIDEM Deer Check Station in the Arcadia Management Area in Exeter, RI.  Directions for driving to the Check Station can be derived at this Website (http://narragansett.tu.org/narragansett/chapter-meetings ) by clicking on the link to the map and inserting your starting point.

A panel of experienced fly anglers will discuss the process and successful practices for fishing the “Hex” hatch on the Wood River.  Questions will be answered and sample Hex flies will be available for inspection.  A variety of fly tying materials will be available.  Fish before or after the meeting.  Contact Ron Marafioti at (401) 463-6162 for information.

Women-Only Fly fishing Workshop

On Saturday, June 27 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. the Narragansett Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU225), the Wood River Fly Fishing Club, the United Fly Tiers of RI, and RIDEM's Aquatic Resource Education program will sponsor their first-ever Women-Only Fly Fishing Workshop. Fly fishing instructions by experienced fly anglers from all over the state will be provided to help teach women how to tie flies and fly fish in a hands-on, safe, and non-competitive environment. This program will focus on equipment needs, fly tying, fly casting and fishing areas across Rhode Island. Lunch will be provided. Space is limited and registration is required. For more information and to register, please call 401-539-0019 or email at kimberly.sullivan@dem.ri.gov.

Where’s the bite

“Striped bass fishing was good but spotty this week. Customers have caught bass at Conimicut Light, up the Seekonk River, Capt. Billy Silvia caught some nice bass at the Prudence Island T Wharf this weekend and a 43” bass was caught at Sally Rock by Don Nguyen in Greenwich Bay but we have no high concentrations of bass.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence.  “My daughter and Capt. Steve Anderson of Bare Bones Charters did very well with bass trolling tube and worm in the Mt. Hope Bay last week.” said Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick. Angler Bob Masse said on the RISAA blog, “Caught bait (Atlantic menhaden) in Greenwich Bay and then landed two striped bass south of the T Wharf at Prudence Island on Sunday.” Don Thivierge of Warren, RI landed a 43.6 pound striped bass off Colt State Park at night last week.  The fish was weighed in a Lucky Bait in Warren.  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “The striped bass bite has been good so far this year we have a lot of fish in the 29 to 32” range and quite  a few very large fish in the 45” to 50” range. People are landing bass on live menhaden, umbrella rigs and tube and worm.  Chucking it working too, but not as well as other methods.”

Summer flounder fishing is OK.  “Mike Swain of Coventry said we took four nice keepers in the Bay this week.  Fish do not seem to be out on the reefs yet.”  I fished the Jamestown Beavertail east and west sides as well as off Newport this weekend and did not do well with fluke.  Many black sea bass to 21” caught while trying to find fluke.  Pete Jones of Wellesley, MA boated a 23” fluke while fishing off Dutch Island south of the Jamestown Bridge.  Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “We had a very strong fluke bite last week with a 13.8 pound fluke caught on a Pro series Mylar green bait rig tipped with squid on Friday. The fishing has certainly been solid with hi hooks getting six to as many as a full limit catch and a fair amount of other anglers getting several nice fluke apiece to take home. For numbers of keepers by far the best day all around was last Sunday when nearly 100 nice fluke went into the bags and coolers with several limits and lots of anglers who boxed three or more nice fluke each.”

Scup fishing has improved with fish being taken in the upper parts of the Bay too.  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “We have had scup caught at Colt State Park, under the bridges and other places in the Bay too.”  Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said, “Scup as large as 19” have been caught at the Mt. Hope Bridge.”

Friday, June 12, 2015

Atlantic menhaden landing bass for anglers

  Jay Ancgil of Coventry with bass to 17 pounds he and friend Mike Swain caught in the East Passage this week live lining pogies (Atlantic menhaden).
 
Frank Travis of North Kingstown with the 24” fluke he caught west of New Harbor, Block Island this week.

Mike Wade (owner of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly) weighs in Braeden Giller’s 7 pound, 8 once summer flounder (fluke) he caught off Misquamicut State Beach this week.
 
Atlantic menhaden landing bass for anglers
Atlantic menhaden or pogies as they are locally refereed to are a great bait fish for striped bass.  This week many of them were eaten by striped bass as anglers throughout the region used this great forage fish as bait.
Menhaden are an important part of the food chain. H. Bruce Franklin, a professor at Rutgers University, is author of The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America said, “This is what the menhaden do best: they get eaten. Game fish and seabirds, sharks and whales all seek out these oily fish as a favorite meal, making menhaden a crucial link in the ocean food chain.”
Atlantic menhaden are also roving filter feeders, converting algae into energy and thus reducing nutrient loads in bays and covers. An adult menhaden, through its unique filtering gills, is able to process up to 4 gallons of water per minute or a million gallons of water every 180 days. Multiply this by the number of menhaden in any given area and this is an amazing amount of water being filtered, a reduction of nutrients means fewer algae blooms and ultimately more oxygen for all fish.
Most (80%) of the anglers reporting they hooked up with a striped bass in the past three weeks said they were using Atlantic menhaden as bait.
 To catch live menhaden to use as bait, anglers cast a net for them or snag them with a weighted treble hook.  They are generally brought back to the boat and a hook is put through the bridge of the nose or back and then the fish is put back into a school of live menhaden. 
You can also use dead menhaden as bait (bought at a bait shop) fresh or frozen.  Some prefer to fish the menhaden whole others cut it in half, yet others chunk it up and use large pieces.  How anglers use dead menhaden as bait largely relies on what the striped bass want.  Some days/seasons they want it chunked, other times they want it whole and sometimes they won’t bite anything but live menhaden.  Some anglers use a weight slide to get the bait down to the striped bass.
Another method working to catch striped bass this spring is trolling with umbrella rigs (mimics a small school of bait fish) or trolling with tube & worm.  However, the larger fish in bays, coves and rivers caught so far this season have been landed using live Atlantic menhaden as bait.
Where’s the bite
Striped bass.  John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “The bass are getting larger.  Albert Bettencourt of Riverside weighed in a 33 pound striped bass for the Striper Maine Tournament which took second place.  His grandson took second place too in the youth division with a 24 pound striped bass.  The largest fish we heard of from shore at Sabin Point last week was a 38” bass.  They even landed bass from shore at Colt State Park. One customer said there were 40 boats Sunday far up the Providence River.”  Angler Jason Ancgil of Coventry fished with Mike Swain Sunday and they landed bass to 17 pounds using live menhaden in the East Passage.  Mike said, “There were about 20 or 30 boats in the area, we moved a bit to say out of all the congestion.”  Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “We weighed in a 42.4 pound striped bass lass week.  The fish are getting large with the smaller fish being caught on umbrella rigs and the large ones with live pogies.  Last week we also heard of fish caught off Poppasquash Point and Colt State Park, Bristol.” Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly said, “Anglers are catching the bass with bunker. We have so much of it around.”  Julian Trozzi of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown said yesterday, “We have no large fish from the beach yet but anglers are catching school bass in Ninigret Pond and from the end of the Breachway with keepers mixed in.”
Summer flounder (fluke) fishing has been improving along the southern coastal shore.  We weighed in a seven pound, eight ounce fish caught by Braeden Biller right off Misquamicut Beach over the weekend.” said Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters.  Frank Travis of Wakefield landed a 24” fluke when fishing on the west side of Block Island in 55 to 70 feet of water.  “Fishing at the mouth of the Sakonnet, and in the Newport Bridge/Ft. Adams area was good last week.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait.  Littlefield from Archie’s Bait said, “Hot places for fluke include the Sakonnet and Newport areas but also we had reports of fish being taken at Warwick Light as well.  Capt. Frank Blount, owner of the Frances Fleet, said, “Much improved fluke fishing this week with better numbers along with some real nice quality slabs hitting the deck of the Gail Frances (party boat) Wednesday through Saturday. On both Thursday and Saturday's outing nearly one third of the keepers were in the jumbo category (4 lbs or better). Biggest fish of the week was the fine 8 lb. slab.”
Atlantic menhaden (pogies) commonly used for striped bass bait have been spotted in large numbers  in Narragansett Bay, Mt. Hope Bay and in south county area in rivers, coves, salt ponds and sanctuaries.
Scup are just making their presence known with reports of anglers starting to land scup in several areas , not in large numbers yet but few anglers are targeting them at this time.
Offshore fishing is just starting.  Chris Young of North Kingstown said, “We fished the Dump and several other places Sunday and found fish but we could not get them to rise.  About three miles south of Block Island we came across a large school of school bluefin tuna but just could not hook-up.”
“Fresh water trout fishing has slowed; hopes are that DEM restocking will reinvigorate things later this spring.  However, the pickerel bite was very strong this week at the Kickemuit Reservoir and some nice carp have been caught in the Blackstone River.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait.  “The bass bite has been good at Echo Lake, Barrington along with a decent catfish bite.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait.
 
 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Saltwater fly fishing flourishing in Little Rhody


Mike Swain of Coventry landed fluke to 5.5 pounds off Jamestown and Newport this Saturday.
Scott Kiefer and his dog landed this 36” striped bass off Prudence Island last week using a Sebile Koolie Minnow.

Capt. Roland Guyette of Offshore Charters landed this summer flounder (fluke) in 53 feet of water off the center wall of the Harbor of Refuge.

Vinnie Catauro of East Greenwich landed eleven bass to 36” while fishing in Narragansett Bay last week.


Brandon Hagopian of Cranston landed this 30 pound striped bass from shore in Providence Monday using 12 pound test line and light tackle.


Saltwater fly fishing flourishing in Little Rhody


Rhode Island has played a huge role in the development of saltwater fly fishing.  Our miles of coastline are perfectly suited to cast a fly and an abundance of sport fish such as striped bass and bluefish in the spring and bonito and false albacore in the fall made us the perfect place for saltwater fly fishing to flourish.

Rhode Island’s fly fishing clubs such as the Rhody Fly Rodders (the oldest saltwater fly fishing club in America) and its members have paved the way nationally for saltwater fly fishing.

This year, the Orvis Company recognized that Rhode Island is the perfect place to saltwater fly fish and is holding their highly acclaimed Orvis Saltwater Fly Fishing School at The Saltwater Edge, 1037 Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown, RI.

The two day school is being held on four weekends in the spring and two weekends in the fall.  Anglers  will learn how to tie essential knots, how to choose gear and tackle, proper fly selection, how to read water, currents and ties, and how to play, land and release fish safely.

Saltwater Edge owner Peter Jenkins said, “This is a comprehensive two day course that provides a solid foundation in the sport.” The Saltwater Edge also offers their own clinic for beginners. Jenkins said, “We also offer a Saltwater Fly Fishing 101 Clinic that provides a brief introduction and a bit of casting instruction.”  

For information call the Saltwater Edge at 401.842.0062 or visit www.orvis.com to learn more about the two day course. 

Commercial fishing agenda at RIMFC

The Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council (RIMFC), which makes commercial and recreational saltwater fishing regulation recommendations, met Monday to address primarily commercial fishing issues.

Highlights include establishing a fall opening of the Narragansett Bay Maine Life Management Area to Atlantic menhaden purse seine commercial vessels after September 1 each year in areas south of the Jamestown and Newport Bridges as well as the area south of the line from Fogland Point to Sandy Point in the Sakonnet River.  The conditional opening would occur only if the states quota has not been exhausted or if the Episodic Event Set Aside Program has been enacted in RI.  A possession limit of 25,000 pound will be allowed in the area.

Regulations for commercial fishermen using cast nets or rod and reel to catch Atlantic menhaden were liberalized as well.  The council voted to recommend to the DEM director that commercial fishers should be allowed to fish on weekends and holidays for Atlantic menhaden supplying fishermen with bait on the weekends. 

Mike Bucko of Bucko Bait & Tackle Fall River said, “I support this new regulation as it will supply recreational fishermen with a fresh supply of Atlantic menhaden on the weekends too.”

In other important business the RIMFC unanimously elected Councilman Christopher Rein (an environmental engineer) to the position of chairman of the Industry Advisory Committee (IAC).  This year the IAC is scheduled to make important commercial fishing regulation recommendations reviewing, revising and updating many of the older fishing regulations in Rhode Island.

The council also heard alarming concerns for commercial fishermen about the rigid black sea bass, tautog and summer flounder regulations now in place in Rhode Island and all along the coast.  Fishermen said they were being driven out of business and asked that the RIMFC formulate a plan to address their concerns regionally where regulations are made.

RIMFC chairman Robert Ballou suggested that the issue be placed the agenda of the next meeting so DEM staff can relate stock status, regional fishing management plans, etc. for these species as well as hear concerns and recommendations that fishermen may have.
 
House approves reauthorization of fisheries act
Tuesday night the U.S. House of Representatives approved, by a 225-152 vote, H.R. 1335,  a revision and reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (MSA).
The MSA is the primary federal law governing U.S. fisheries management.
In a statement, Robert C. Vandermark, executive director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network, said "We are disappointed with the House passage of HR 1335. The legislation passed by the House undermines the strong science and conservation measures within the current law and promotes greater uncertainty in the future management of our fisheries.” 
A version of the bill will now be taken up with the U.S. Senate.  Vandermark said, “We hope the Senate will follow in the tradition of Senators Magnuson and Stevens and work across the aisle to draft a bill that builds upon the law’s success and strengthens it to meet the new challenges our oceans and fisheries face. We look forward to working with the Senate to renew the Magnuson-Stevens Act for the benefit of fishermen, seafood business owners, coastal communities, and all Americans who rely on healthy oceans and productive fisheries."
In a press release issued yesterday by Save our Seafood, a commercial fishing industry organization, supporters said, “This bill will provide more flexibility in stock rebuilding and schedules as well as ease other regulatory burdens.”

Several key provisions of the bill include a provision that reforms the current 10 year stock rebuilding timeline to allow for more flexibility, as well as language that aims to make the management process more transparent by requiring the live broadcast of fishery management council meetings as well as making other materials publicly available.

The bill also included an amendment authored by Massachusetts Congressmen Keating, Lynch, and Moulton that would redirect the money in NOAA's Asset Forfeiture Fund to pay for fisheries research, at-sea and shore side monitoring costs, and other priorities to "rebuild or maintain sustainable fisheries, ensure healthy ecosystems, and maintain fishing communities."

Where’s the bite

Striped bass. Angler Scott Kiefer fished the Prudence Island area last week and landed a half dozen striped bass including a 36” fish.   Scott said, “They loved the Sebile Koolie Minnow and I had the Bay to myself which is great for East Greenwich Bay.”  Al Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, said, “The boats are just getting out today (Wednesday) for the first time four days due to the weather.  However, the school bass bite in Potter and Salt Ponds has been very good.” Last week Vinnie Catauro of East Greenwich landed eleven striped bass in the Bay to 36”.   John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “Things opened up for the big bass last Wednesday and Thursday from Port Edgewood to south of Conimicut Light.  I weighted in a 27 pound fish.  Another customer said he landed a 42” fish using a live poggy (Atlantic menhaden) in front of Port Edgewood Marina (Cranston).  He would put down a pogy and within five seconds a fish would pick it up.  Chucked pogies and umbrella rigs seemed to be working too. Friday there were 28 boats around Conimicut Light as the commercial pogy boats had taken a lot of the bait south of the light last week.” Capt. Ron Mouchon of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown said, “No bass have shown up at Block Island but we continue to catch school bass all along the southern coastal shore.  The largest fish I heard about last week was 39”.”  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick, said, “Things opened up for bass fishing this week… Friday and Saturday early in the morning were the best days with anglers catching fish using live and chunked Atlantic menhaden as well as umbrella rigs. My daughter caught a 36” bass trolling near Bullocks Point light marker.” Brandon Hagopian landed a 30 pound striped bass from the Providence shore Monday.  His father said, “He was using 12 pound test line and light tackle.”

Summer flounder (fluke). Capt. Roland Guyette of Offshore Charters was fishing on his own this weekend and landed some nice fluke off the center wall of the Harbor of Refuge in 53 feet of water.  Capt. Guyette used a double buck tail rig, white and blue. His friend George Cioe said, “The largest fish hit the bottom blue rig baited with squid.”  Angler Mike Swain of Coventry and his fishing partner landed seven nice keeper fluke to 5.5 pounds Saturday fishing locations off Jamestown and Newport.  They were using squid for bait. Capt. Ron Mouchon of Breachway Bait & Tackle said, “We held our Annual Fundraiser Fluke Tournament for the food bank this weekend and the first place 6.25 pound fish was caught by Jonathan Cambridge of Boston.  Second place at 5.22 pounds went to Bob Jolly and third place at 4.76 went to Nick Thatcher.  All fish were caught west of New Harbor, Block Island.”  Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait, said “Customers are starting to catch fluke at Austin Hollow, Jamestown and at the Jamestown and Newport Bridges.”

Black sea bass are not legal to take at this time.  I landed and put back six nice black sea bass in the 15 to 16 1/2 inch range when fishing for summer flounder off Newport this weekend. The sea bass were returned to the water as the season starts July 2 (one fish/angler/day) at 14 inches and then on September 1 it jumps to seven fish/angler/day.

“Tautog fishing was good right to the end.” said John Wunner of John’s Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown.  John said he weighed in a 11 ½ pound fish last week and the customer caught two additional nice fish.  Tautog season ended May 31st and is now closed for the spawning season.  It will open once again August 1.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

House bill would weaken fisheries act

 
Anthony Mecurio Jr. from Coventry RI with a fine brace of fluke he buck tailed onto the deck of the Gail Frances party boat last week.

 
 
Michael Fotiades of Narragansett, RI with squid caught last week on a recent RISAA trip.  His son George is in the background.


House bill would weaken fisheries act

A U.S. House of Representatives bill (H.R. 1335) titled "Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act," that would reauthorize the Magnuson –Stevens Act is scheduled to come before the House next Monday. 

The Magnuson–Stevens Act (MSA) is the primary law governing recreational and commercial marine fisheries management in the United States. It was originally enacted as the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 and amended many times.  The two recent amendments were the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 and then the MSA of 2006.

The supporters of this version or the reauthorization bill, which was authored by Alaska Congressman Don Young (R-AK), stated in a support letter that the bill will maintain the successful aspects of fisheries management under Magnuson-Stevens, while providing much-needed flexibility and economic relief to hard-working fishing communities.

According to Save Our Seafood (a seafood industry advocacy group comprised of commercial fish processors, fish brokers and boat owners), the support letter was sent last week to the House Natural Resources Committee Chair.  In a press release this week, Save Our Seafood said, “supporters of H.R. 1335 believe the bill will strike the appropriate ‘balance’ between addressing the ecological needs of fish stocks, the conservation goals of management, and the economic needs of fishing communities that are not being met by the current Act's rigid stock rebuilding requirements.”

However, there are two sides to every story.  Conservation minded fishermen and conservation groups throughout the country (including Pew Charitable Trusts and the Environmental Defense Fund) feel that this bill if passed will reverse much of the good that the MSA currently provides our fisheries.

Last year US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI and our congressional delegation, held an fisherman’s input session at the URI Bay Campus.  At that meeting Rhode Island fishermen and Janet Coit, director of the RI Department of Environmental Management, testified in support of Magnuson-Stevens saying it has rebuilt many of our fish stocks and much of it should be left intact when it is reauthorized.

Meeting attendees complemented the MSA for establishing Allowable Catch Limits (ACLs) that facilitated the rebuilding of fish stocks.

In an issue brief (pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis) Pew Charitable Trusts said, “(The bill) would significantly undercut the nation’s progress in preventing overfishing and rebuilding depleted fish populations. This shortsighted legislation would undermine the act’s core conservation provisions, jeopardizing the gains made in rebuilding and sustainably managing U.S. fish populations. It also would fail to advance a comprehensive approach to fishery management.”

Pew continued to say, “The Magnuson-Stevens Act should be updated in a way that promotes a comprehensive, 21st-century approach to managing the nation’s fisheries. But H.R. 1335 would move the country in the wrong direction, threatening the health of U.S. oceans and fish populations.”

NOAA seeks sanctuary volunteers

NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is seeking applicants with recreational fishing expertise to fill vacant seats on its advisory councils at Flower Garden Banks, Monitor and Stellwagen Bank national marine sanctuaries.
 
It is vitally important that recreational anglers participate in sanctuary advisory panels as their point of view is not often heard due to a lack of participation.  The recent New England Council vote on allowing recreational fishing in the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary area was critical to recreational fishing and the charter fishing industry. It demonstrates the importance of angler participation on these sanctuary panels.
 
A sanctuary advisory council is a community-based advisory group with representatives from various user groups, government agencies, and the public at large. The role of the council is to provide advice to the sanctuary superintendent on the designation and/or operation of a national marine sanctuary. Council members include fishers, divers, teachers, boaters, business people, activists, protected area managers, scientists, and elected officials. A successful candidate for the positions noted above will advise the sanctuary superintendent on the recreational fishing perspective. Nominations are due June 30.  For information contact Russell Dunn, NOAA National Policy Advisor for Recreational Fisheries at Russell.Dunn@noaa.gov or 727.551.5740.



 
Where's the bite
“Cod fishing at the East Fishing grounds has been fair when anglers have been able to get there. Anglers are catching shorts with keepers mixed in.” said Al Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown.
Striped bass. “Keeper bass are being caught with tube and worm and with chunks of Atlantic menhaden in the East Passage near Bear Point, Prudence Island.” said Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick. On RISAA‘s blog angler Bob Malouin said, “We motored over to Conimicut Light (Saturday). We didn't have any success throwing plugs and I was marking bass so around 0730 I decided to live line a pogy. In less than a minute I hooked into and ended up landing a 30 pound bass. After letting her go we ended up landing four more cookie cutter fish around 30". All fish were caught on live pogies directly south of Conimicut light.”    “We weighed in a couple of nice fish, not particularly big but in the 33” to 34” range.  Anglers are catching fish with top water lures such as SlugGo and Cohoes.  Some anglers are live lining and chucking pogies.” said Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren. “The worm hatch in Potter and Salt Ponds has been good with anglers landing bass there but things are pretty slow out in front.” Said Al Conti of Snug Harbor.  No bass report from Block Island yet.
Summer flounder (fluke) fishing is picking up.  “They are catching fluke right off Warwick Light.” said Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick.  This is the third spring in a row that we will have had a decent fluke bite at Warwick Light.  This spot has not been this active in years.  Al Conti of Snug Harbor Marina said, “Customers are landing fluke and it is going to get better as the water warms. We had a 9.9 pound fluke caught along the coastal shore and a 10 pound fish caught on the Southwest side of Block Island but the bite has been very soft… the fish are still lethargic due to the cold water.  As it heats up this week the fluke fishing should improve.” Angler Mike Swain of Coventry said, “We are landing fluke off Jamestown and Newport with a three to one keeper ratio.” Roger Simpson of the Francis Fleet said, “We are catching fluke both on half and full day trips. Fish were spread out better around the boat on some days verses others. Those with experience using buck tails seemed to still have an edge over those using bait rigs on most outings. Always be prepared to fish both.” John Stavrakas said, “We arrived at the NW corner of Block Island (NE of "duck head") to find a fleet of boats working. The day started with a light westerly breeze and ended with a steady 15 knots gusting to 25. We worked the incoming tide for a half dozen keepers to 24" and twenty or so shorts. We were using 4/0 circle hooks with a buck tail skirt tipped with squid and spearing. Pink seemed to out fish white and green.”
Tautog season closes May 31.  However, if you can get out before then it might be worth a try as keeper tautog are being caught. Many Macedo or Lucky Bait said, “We have and 22” and 24” fish caught by customers this past week.  Don’t get me wrong, they are catching a lot of shorts by keepers are mixed in.  Their bait of choice this spring seems to be crabs rather than worms.”
Squid fishing has improved. “Customers are landing big tubes not just in Newport but they have traveled up the Sakonnet and all the way up to Bristol.” said Manny Macedo or Lucky Bait.  I fished the Frances Fleet Saturday night and it was a slow pick.  Top angler caught nineteen squid.  Roger Simpson of the Frances Fleet said, “Wednesday night was the best last week with generally one half to one full bucket per angler. Friday night was right behind with quite a few anglers doing one half to three quarters of a bucket and just a handful of fishers doing 20-30 pieces. Thursday and Saturday nights were slower with hi hooks both nights doing 30-40 pieces with most having less.” Angler Kevin Robishaw said, “Headed out last night (Saturday) aboard the Frances fleet for squid on the RISAA charter. Went out in front by Nebraska Shoal and anchored. Squid were coming over rail on first drop for me in the bow. This tapered off quickly and it was a pick all night for most in the boat. I never figured out a particular color or depth. I seemed to get them off bottom 4-5 feet but never really keyed in on them. I believe most people got at least a few. I got 10 tubes and between three of us in bow we got maybe a third of bucket full.”
 
 
 
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